Demonstrating the premium fidelity, high output power capabilities and versatility of JBL VERTECA® DP Series powered line array systems, Italian audio system provider Madema SpA deployed a large, multi-array VERTEC system for the Primo Maggio festival in Rome on May 1. The free annual public event commemorates the Italian Labor Day. Held in Rome’s Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, the temporary stage for Primo Maggio is traditionally set up in front of the historic Basilica of St. John Lateran, the first church to be built in Rome, with first construction dating to 313 A.D.
Once each year the historic religious site comes to life as hundreds of thousands of live music fans converge on the plaza. Many arrive early, camping in the square to claim the best seats. This year’s event drew a crowd estimated at more than one million spectators, largely due to the special appearance by legendary rock singer Vasco Rossi. In addition to Rossi and his band, performers for 2009 included Edoardo Bennato, Alessandro Mannarino, Robben Ford, Caparezza and Subsonica. Featuring 30 different bands in total, the event was broadcast live throughout Europe on RAI to another estimated four million persons.
As it has for the past several years, Madema exclusively handled all concert sound reinforcement duties for Primo Maggio. The company’s event sound system design featured a total of 127 VERTEC system enclosures. The main PA system was formatted as a left-right configuration of 18 enclosures per side, comprising VT4888DP-AN midsize powered line array elements with DrivePackA® technology, with three additional VT4888DP-AN line array elements provided for front fill. The main arrays were each flanked by 12 VT4880 full-size arrayable subwoofers, flown in arced companion arrays. For additional low-frequency reinforcement, 24 VT4880A ultra-long excursion ground-based subwoofers were spaced along the front of the stage.
All non-powered subwoofers were driven with Crown Macro-Tech MA5000VZ power amplifiers, and a total of 700,000 watts of peak power was available for the overall system. The Madema team utilized Harman’s HiQnetâ„¢ System Architectâ„¢ software for configuration and control of the system. This user-interface platform gave complete access to onboard DSP and amplification channels across the entire system of nearly one hundred networked devices, whether traditionally-powered passive subwoofers or internally-powered full-range speaker arrays.
To reach additional listeners in the spacious, 40,000 square-meter (430,000 square ft) listening area and surrounding boulevards, Madema also set up four delay towers of 14, 12, eight and six VT4888DP-AN line array elements. With such a huge crowd onsite, an asymmetrical audience area, and placement constraints due to the plaza’s historical architectural features, the largest delay tower had a throw requirement of nearly 200 meters (660 feet), a challenge for any loudspeaker system. Madema’s equipment selection and system design approach met the challenge.
"I simply love JBL!" offered Davide Micheli, Madema's Event and Technical Manager for Primo Maggio, upon hearing the entire multi-array VERTEC DP system during pre-show testing. Micheli was assisted onsite by a group of the company’s key technicians, including System Engineer Carmelo Carlaccini and FOH Engineer Gianmario Lussana, who was responsible for assisting sound mixers for bands on
the show. Madema's Stefano Brugiotti managed wireless radio-frequency systems, Luca Molinari was in charge of the complex stage monitor system, and Moreno Zamperini of Audio Equipment handled user-interface and network management issues.
The audio team from Madema maintained a multi-day presence at the outdoor show site. Stage setup for the huge event began on April 26th, with scaffolding towers, FOH mix position and cable runs put in place on April 27th. The VERTEC system was flown and adjusted on April 28th. Two days of individual artist soundchecks followed, in preparation for the marathon concert on May 1 which lasted late into the evening.
"Massive, large-scale outdoor entertainment events like Primo Maggio challenge the skills of any rental sound company and crew," noted David Scheirman, Vice President, Tour Sound for JBL Professional. "With this event, Davide Micheli and his team of audio professionals have clearly shown why Madema has earned its reputation as one of the Mediterranean region's premier concert sound system providers."
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